Miami Beach, Fla.—Email offers the ability to make emotional connections with recipients when the messages extend promotions and creative from other marketing channels. That message was delivered by Luanne Calvert, VP-marketing and communications at airline Virgin America, at the Direct Marketing Association's Email Evolution Conference, which began here today.
“In talking about the flying experience, we have an emotional message, which is comfort, joy and entertainment—not points,” said Calvert in her opening keynote, “Monitoring the Digital Heart.” “My challenge with email is how to further express it to someone who hasn't flown on our airline.”
Calvert said Virgin America's email campaigns reuse banner ad images promoting time-sensitive price offerings; promote and extend earned media, such as publicity resulting from a recent award from Travel+Leisure; and highlight the carrier's partners, such as particular destinations, hotels or American Express Co.
“Our email campaigns will focus even more on business travelers and retention this year, featuring in-flight Wi-Fi and our frequent flier program,” Calvert said. The company's email outreach to this segment includes lifestyle elements because “business travel often is a hybrid experience which contains a leisure component,” she said.
Other presentations at the conference focused on database marketing and its impact on email campaigns. According to Gregory Bright, director-customer insight database center at Gannett Co., the company's b-to-b outreach depends on understanding its millions of subscribers.
Bright said Gannett's segmentation efforts are providing insights into which consumers influence which businesses.
“You don't have to drop an email atomic bomb on the entire population of Cincinnati to accomplish that, even if sales would you like you to do it,” Bright said. “You can segment intelligently.”
One of email's major challenges, Bright said, is dealing with “the spam police” at Internet service providers. Because subscribers often don't open Gannett's subscription email confirmations, ISPs tend to label them as spam, which harms overall deliverability.
Another email issue, according to co-panelist Stephen Guerra, director-vertical market at LexisNexis: Big Data is becoming increasingly important in crafting relevant emails because “people lie.” Rather than rely on such forms, Guerra said, email marketers can be more effective by using data analysis and homing in on just the most important criteria.
“We found that the more choices we give our marketing customers about accessing the 300 million contacts [in] our database, the less they use the system,” he said. “So we ask them to tell us big questions, or just one—such as, "Who is most likely over the next few years to switch insurance companies?'—and pose it in human language.”